15 May 2018

M Bovis spread: MPI monitoring farms in Waikato

9:13 pm on 15 May 2018

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is monitoring at least two other Waikato farms for Mycoplasma bovis after confirming the first case in the region.

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Photo: Supplied

A dairy farm in the Cambridge area tested positive for the cattle disease, bringing the number of affected properties nationwide to 39.

Its director of response Geoff Gwyn said they were focusing on stock movements from it but it wasn't the only Waikato farm under regulatory restrictions.

"There's at least two that are under restricted place and a number under a notice of direction."

And with next month marking what's commonly called 'gypsy day' where herds will move around, he said those with restricted stock movements should know their obligations.

"At the moment what my focus is ensuring that where we understand the disease to be, and those are the properties under regulatory control, that we control those movements.

"Other than that as long as farmers take sensible precautions they should be able to minimise the risk. But there's no zero risk here as there may be a herd out there we haven't found yet, let's be up front about that, but it will be in the minority if at all.

He said it was important farmers involved in moving cattle next month carried out biosecurity practices and ensured their National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) records were current.

"A farmer should have confidence that he or she understands exactly where the animals that they are bringing onto their property come from and they are aware of the health status of those animals.

'We've got an industry, we've got to protect it'

The manager of a farm in Cambridge, Louise Cook, first heard mycoplasma bovis was in the region through the social media grapevine.

"It's got to be really difficult for them on the coal face and that's probably the first response as a farmer is to say, poor buggers."

The local vet says they've had multiple calls from farmers asking where the infected farm was and what to look out for.

With livelihoods at risk, Ms Cook said the close farming community would be supporting each other.

"I think everyone's in a similar head space that that changes how worried we are...the risk for us is now heightened, we've got to consider how we protect ourselves."

At her farm, they had stopped outsider's vehicles entering and boot washing had been in place since the first infection was found last year.

"We've got an industry, we've got to protect it. It's the backbone of the New Zealand economy, is agriculture, so everyone is invested in seeing it be a strong and healthy industry."

Authorities and industry groups are planning a meeting for farmers in Cambridge next week.

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